Juggler Of Worlds
Larry Niven and Edward M. Lerner
Tor, Aug 2008,
Amalgamated Regional Militia Intel Agent Sigmund Ausfaller works extremely hard to keep aliens from harming the Earth and its colonies. However, the brilliant but obsessed ARM operative determines that the top hazard at the moment comes from the sheep like obsessive Puppeteers. They herd to protect their species from the remotest of threats.
The Puppeteers General Products sector sells items deemed safe to their species to the highest bidder. Recently they sold spaceship hulls that are guaranteed to protect anyone inside from any form of radiation. However, a scientific expedition using a General Products anti-radiation hull arrives with the outside husk in perfect order, but inside everything including the crew has been gutted and mutilated. Sigmund needs to know why while the Puppeteers begin the sale of specialty technology to chosen ones in order to increase their espionage activity until they learn that in several millenniums the galactic core will explode. Reacting to this future threat, the Puppeteers sheepishly vanish leaving behind selected scouts to keep watch on the others pulling strings along the way.
A Ringworld prequel like FLEET OF WORLDS, JUGGLER OF WORLDS is an engaging science fiction thriller intended to and succeeding in thrilling long time fans of the series. Much of the novel repeats action from the saga although refreshes it to a degree by using someone else’s interpretation of known events at least to the Ringworld audience. More so than usual the similarities between Sigmund and the Puppeteers are obvious as both are obsessed on preventing external real or perceived threats from harming their species by pulling the strings of others. This is a solid entry though a bit slow as readers know what occurred already.